How Pantagruel did put himself in a readiness to go to sea; and of the herb named Pantagruelion.
Within very few days after that Pantagruel had taken his leave of the good Gargantua, who devoutly prayed for his son’s happy voyage, he arrived at the seaport, near to Sammalo, accompanied with Panurge, Epistemon, Friar John of the Funnels, Abbot of Theleme, and others of the royal house, especially with Xenomanes the great traveller and thwarter of dangerous ways, who was come at the bidding and appointment of Panurge, of whose castlewick of Salmigondin he did hold some petty inheritance by the tenure of a mesne fee. Pantagruel, being come thither, prepared and made ready for launching a fleet of ships, to the number of those which Ajax of Salamine had of old equipped in convoy of the Grecian soldiery against the Trojan state. He likewise picked out for his use so many mariners, pilots, sailors, interpreters, artificers, officers, and soldiers, as he thought fitting, and therewithal made provision of so much victuals of all sorts, artillery, munition of divers kinds, clothes, moneys, and other such luggage, stuff, baggage, chaffer, and furniture, as he deemed needful for carrying on the design of a so tedious, long, and perilous voyage. Amongst other things, it was observed how he caused some of his vessels to be fraught and loaded with a great quantity of an herb of his called Pantagruelion, not only of the green and raw sort of it, but of the confected also, and of that which was notably well befitted for present use after the fashion of conserves. The herb Pantagruelion hath a little root somewhat hard and rough, roundish, terminating in an obtuse and very blunt point, and having some of its veins, strings, or filaments coloured with some spots of white, never fixeth itself into the ground above the profoundness almost of a cubit, or foot and a half. From the root thereof proceedeth the only stalk, orbicular, cane-like, green without, whitish within, and hollow like the stem of smyrnium, olus atrum, beans, and gentian, full of long threads, straight, easy to be broken, jagged, snipped, nicked, and notched a little after the manner of pillars and columns, slightly furrowed, chamfered, guttered, and channelled, and full of fibres, or hairs like strings, in which consisteth the chief value and dignity of the herb, especially in that part thereof which is termed mesa, as he would say the mean, and in that other, which hath got the denomination of milasea. Its height is commonly of five or six foot. Yet sometimes it is of such a tall growth as doth surpass the length of a lance, but that is only when it meeteth with a sweet, easy, warm, wet, and well-soaked soil—as is the ground of the territory of Olone, and that of Rasea, near to Preneste in Sabinia—and that it want not for rain enough about the season of the fishers’ holidays and the estival solstice. There are many trees whose height is by it very far exceeded, and you might call it dendromalache by the authority of Theophrastus. The plant every year perisheth,—the tree neither in the trunk, root, bark, or boughs being durable.